There's a man who comes
around every day at six.
He's out there, right under
my apartment window, rain or shine.
I don't know his name. I
don't know from where he came. All I know is he's there, ten
floors below me.
I get home from work at
five-twenty and get right to my avocation: watching the stranger
below. At first, he was just an oddity. Over time, though, he's
become my sole reason for existing like I do.
Itís become almost
ritualistic as I arrive home. First, I pour myself a stiff drink
of rye. Then I take my station by the window and look down. I wait
for the man every day like he's my long-lost son, my future
brother-in-law just come home from war or even, sometimes, yes,
yes, yes, even my lover...
I think he's a terrorist.
You might think this to be a crazy sort of hypothesis, but I
believe this man may be some sort of Persian. He's dark skinned
and though he does not wear a turban, I fear he might wear such a
religious hat in his lonely times. And he carries a long suitcase
or, perhaps, a briefcase of some sort - not the kind that
businessmen carry home, but the type of case that would be a nice
fit for a small nuclear bomb.
If it wasn't for me, nobody
would watch this threatening man. Any day now, I expect a stadium
to blow up, the transit system to fry like a hotdog in a microwave
or my whole apartment building - all 1,001 of us here - to be tied
up, beaten and shot by this man.
I began watching him while
we both still had a lot of hair. I noticed little things about his
espionage profession. And it wasnít the big things that gave him
away. Nope. Little giveaways made his figure out there scream like
he wore radioactive ties and suspenders.
For one thing, switching
accomplices (i.e., the women drivers, there have been two over the
years - but only two). That was his biggest giveaway. Are spies
that loyal or faithful? Címon!
But there have been other
little hints: like those beady black eyes he thinks nobody sees.
Those eyes peer out like an armadilloís, or even worse, a ratís.
And the kinetic/dial-a-framed/magical umbrellas he owns seem to
shoot rays up in the air when itís raining; the twisted
newspaper (which is actually some kind of dirty bomb) is
omnipresent; plus, the way he talks to himself, at times, well, go
I could go on and on. But we
haven't much time. Or space...
The funny thing is, this man
only stands on the corner of Vine Boulevard and St. Vitus Street
for 10 or 15 minutes. And itís only on Monday through Friday.
Then, like clockwork, some very pretty woman - usually sharp
dressed to a tee - speeds around the corner and picks him up in a
slick BMW. The woman, I surmise, is an espionage agent the way she
drives so hastily around the corner, stops the fine German machine
on a dime, then hurries off down Vine after the man gets into her
Strangely, heís never
there on weekends, but he may be traveling overseas during these
times. Spies go all sorts of different places - even other
countries - I've found by reading spy books and by carting myself
to spy movies. I hate spy books and spy movies, actually, but I
force myself to watch them so I understand more about the stranger
I often wonder where they're
off to - if they fly to the Middle East on weekends and partake in
terrorist lessons there. Do they travel to Europe and try to
infiltrate Sinn Fťin, the Skinheads, Neo Nazis or the
administration at Oxford University? They definitely look to be
part of that IRA/European/big-bad-mean thing. I know that luck
would have it that those two are either Catholic or Protestant,
being that this is the United States and most of us are dipped in
the holy waters of these lakes upon our births.
If you're impressed with my
logic, so am I!
I see them sometimes flying
to Dublin, or Stockholm, or Amsterdam. For all we know, he might
be the real Vlas Dracula and his fine looking, witchy companion,
I see them meeting with
despicable under-the-belly, underworld figures over a good glass
of warm absinthe. Like all spies do, they'll eat nice little hors
devours of monkey brain cobbler and refried jumbo jellyfish.
That's a bit overly amplified, but the truth may be much stranger,
you know. If curiosity killed the cat, it also fed the animal. I
read a lot of intrigue and adventure novels. Spies eat weird
stuff. Guys like me have to watch them. I am a forensic accountant
with the hobby of looking for top-ranking espionage agents. I know
that my blue suit goes with my black shoes, my brown suit goes
with my brown or tans.
I like to drink rye at night
because it can be a dry drink.
I've been watching this man
for ten years now. You can say I've grown old with him. When I
first noticed his strange comings and goings, he had a full head
of hair and it was stringy, icky and long, like a hippy hairdo.
Now he's nearly bald and he wears his hair short. But, strange to
say, he's had two separate drivers and three different cars over
the decade. Like me, he knows the rudiments of business dress -
blue with black and brown with brown.
But the strangest part of it
all is his car collection. The first woman who picked him up used
to grab him in a VW. A Jetta, Golf, or some other aluminum can
with wheels. Then she must have felt the heat of me watching her
so much so she switched to one of those inconspicuous, crappy SUVs.
The color of the thing was grey (hey, you talk about
chameleon/unassuming coloring). Now, the hippy dippy blonde lady
has been axed (probably in Mexico, like Trotsky) and in her place
is this long-legged, sharp brunette with cold, calculating looks
and enough impatient hostility to start a forest fire.
Strange? You bet it is.
I'm lucky. I have the best
hobby in the world. And when it all comes down - when that man on
the corner finally strikes - I'll be there.
Just wait and see...